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Obituary: Dr. Jerry Carlson, former HPE Department Head and Dean of Education

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at an 11:00 AM Service in First Baptist Church in Lafayette for Gerald Paul Carlson, Ph.D., 82, who passed away on Friday, June 14, 2024 at his residence surrounded by his loving family.

A private inurnment will be held in Fountain Memorial Cemetery in Lafayette.

Don Rahaim will officiate at the services.

Survivors include his wife, Beth Carlson; three children, Deborah Ann Carlson Tschida and her husband Eugene Tschida, Joshua Paul Carlson and his wife Kelly Carlson, and John Michael Carlson and his wife Jessica Carlson; seven grandchildren, Matthew Tschida, Caleb Carlson, Avery Carlson, Jonathon Carlson, Madeleine Carlson, Guinevere Carlson, and Ezra Carlson; and two siblings, Shirley Udenberg and her husband Floyd and James Carlson and his wife Mary Lou Carlson.

Preceded in death by his son, Mark Allen Carlson; and parents, Vivian Keller Carlson and Paul Helmer Carlson.

Dr. Gerald Paul Carlson, known affectionately as Jerry, departed this world on June 14, 2024, in Lafayette, Louisiana. Born on September 20, 1941, Jerry led a life characterized by his dedication to education and sports and his commitment to his family. Jerry’s educational journey was impressive and far-reaching, having earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and physical education from Northland College. He furthered his academic pursuits with a master’s in physical education from the University of Colorado and culminated with a Ph.D. in administration, health, and physical education from the University of Utah. Jerry’s professional life was marked by a series of accolades and distinctions that reflected his profound influence on the fields of education and physical health, including numerous published articles and multiple book publications.

Dr. Carlson’s first commendation, by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) in 1973, was only the beginning of his storied career. His expertise and leadership were recognized in Who’s Who in the West in 1979, an Honor Award from Colorado Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (COHPERD) in 1980, an acknowledgment in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest in 1983, and a commendation from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 1989. However, the pinnacle of his professional recognition came in 1991 when the Louisiana Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (LAHPERD) celebrated him for Outstanding Professional Leadership and again in 1995 when he was the recipient of the highest Honor Award presented by the American Alliance for Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD).

Among some of his greatest accomplishments was the design of the physical education facility for the University of Colorado, Denver campus, which ultimately became a catalyst for Dr. Carlson’s move to Louisiana. His extensive knowledge and expertise in health facilities poised him to become USL’s Kinesiology Department Head, and Dr. Carlson not only designed Bourgeois Hall, but he also supervised a team of leaders who wrote 15 grants to help fund the project.

As a testament to his outstanding service and dedication, Northland College honored him with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998 while serving as Department Head of Kinesiology at USL. However, the crowning achievement of his hard work and dedication was his appointment as Dean of the College of Education, where he continued to leave an indelible mark until his retirement and subsequent naming as Dean Emeritus in 2015, in which an honorary state of the art smart classroom was dedicated to Dr. Carlson.

In addition to his academic service, Dr. Carlson also served on multiple boards and gave his time and talent to many civic organizations, including Nike Louisiana Open Board of Directors, March of Dimes Walk American Campaign for USL, United Way of Acadiana Human Service Committee, Lafayette Family YMCA, Lafayette South Rotary Club, Lafayette United Way, Lafayette General Medical Center Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center, American Heart Association, Lafayette Education Foundation, Lafayette Library Foundation, and The Family Tree.

Apart from his professional life, Jerry’s personal interests painted the picture of a man who found peace and pleasure in the simpler things. He was a compassionate man, a faithful mentor to many, a good friend, a loving father, an avid fisherman, a persistent golfer, an enthusiastic advocate for UL Athletics, and he cherished every moment spent with his family, particularly his beloved grandchildren. Jerry’s character was the embodiment of the famous quote by Albert Einstein, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” Indeed, Jerry’s life was a testament to the value he placed on education, sports, family, and service to others.

Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Carlson left an incredible mark on the world through his work, his family, and his unwavering commitment to the betterment of others. As we celebrate his life and the countless lives he touched, we are reminded of the deep footprints he has left in the sands of time. Jerry’s memory will continue to inspire and influence for generations to come, a true testament to a life well-lived. He will be profoundly missed by those who knew him, loved him, and respected him as a colleague, mentor, and friend.

Pallbearers will be John Michael Carlson, Joshua Carlson, John Hulsey, Caleb Carlson, Wesley Hulsey, and Segundo Fernandez.

Honorary Pallbearer will be Edward Fernandez and David Hulsey.

The family requests that visitation be observed at First Baptist Church in Lafayette on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 from 10:00 AM until time of services.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Foundation, Memo: The Gerald Carlson Endowed Scholarship Fund, Post Office Box 44290, Lafayette, LA 70504.

The family would like to give special thanks to Hospice of Acadiana and the staff at A Care Partner for their love and care given to Gerald Paul Carlson, Ph.D. and his family.

View the obituary and guestbook online at www.mourning.com

Martin & Castille – SOUTHSIDE, 600 E. Farrel Road, Lafayette, Louisiana 70508, 337-984-2811

Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas, friend and colleague.
The following employment history was provided by Charlene Hamilton, Director of Human Resources, UL.
Hired:  7-31-1980 – Professor & Head
Resigned – 7-27-1984

6-30-1987 – Professor & Head

6-5-2000 – Associate Dean

7-1-2000 – Acting Dean

7-1-2002 – Dean & Professor

8-6-2014 – Professor

1-2-2015 – Retired (Dean Emeritus & Professor)

Special thanks to Dan Bouillion for notification of the Athletic Network of Jerry’s passing.
Please click below for Jerry speaking at the Frederick Nelson Memorial Service https://nelsonusl.com/gallery%2Fvideo